On Monday, October 21, 2013, approximately 2:45 PM, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office received a call concerning an unresponsive child in the 1200 block of Scott Drive in Vidor.
Upon arrival, Deputies met with the caller and located a child at the residence who appeared to have sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the head. According to information obtained on scene, a five year old boy was left with a babysitter at the child’s home in the 1200 block of Roberts Rd., just one street over from Scott Drive. The babysitter heard a noise in another room of the residence and discovered the child with the injury. There was no phone access available at the residence. The babysitter carried the child to the child’s grandparent’s address on Scott Dr. where emergency personnel were contacted at that time. The preliminary investigation appears to be that the shooting was accidental.
Justice of the Peace Precinct #4, Judge Price, was summoned to the scene. An autopsy was ordered and the child was transported to the Jefferson County Morgue.
No arrests have been made and this investigation is ongoing.
****UPDATE**** 10/21/2013-The name of the child was withheld previously pending all family notifications. Notifications have since been made. The five year old boy’s name is John Read.
There is no other information to release at this time.
The ongoing investigation into the accidental shooting death of five year old John Allen Read has led the Orange County Sheriff’s Office Investigators to file a case with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, charging the baby sitter, Melissa Ann Ringhardt, white female, date of birth 9-12-1994, of Vidor, with Abandoning or Endangering a Child-State Jail Felony PC 22.041.
Melissa Ringhardt had been living with the Read family in their home for the past few months. On Monday, October 21, 2013, Ringhardt was left in the home with five year old John Read and another 6 month old child belonging to Kayla and Joe Read. Ringhardt stated to Investigators that she was carrying a handgun on her person in the home that day because she was scared being at home alone. The handgun was a semi-automatic .40 caliber pistol. Ringhardt left the handgun on a coffee table in the living room and went to the bedroom to take a nap. When she was awakened from her nap, she noticed she didn’t see John around the house. She began looking until she found him deceased in the living room with the fatal gunshot wound. The six month old child was not harmed. Ringhardt carried both children to the grandparent’s house to get help.
Investigators were able to obtain an Arrest Warrant for Ringhardt. On Tuesday, October 22, 2013, around 3:00 p.m., Ringhardt was located at an address in the 1600 block of Willowbend in the Vidor area. She was arrested without incident and transported to the Orange County Jail Facility. She was booked for Abandoning or Endangering a Child-State Jail Felony PC 22.041. Bond has not yet been set.
The baby sitter of a 5-year-old boy who died Monday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound allegedly told authorities she’d been high on marijuana that day.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed in her arrest, Melissa Ringhardt had been “intoxicated throughout the day due to the consumption of marijuana” the day she allegedly left a .40-caliber handgun on a coffee table when she went take a nap in another room.
The affidavit states Ringhardt said she was carrying the gun “as a form of protection” the day she was watching 5-year-old John Read and another 6-month old child at a home in the 1200 block of Roberts Road in Vidor.